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Baga Massacre World media explains silence on Boko Haram killings

World leaders gathered in France to march against terrorism in a show of solidarity with the country but no such honour was bestowed on Nigeria which lost a far greater number of citizens.

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The reported death of 2,000 people in Baga, Borno State has sparked outrage all over the world with many wondering why the massacre was not given as much media coverage as the killings of 17 people in Paris.

World leaders gathered in France to march against terrorism in a show of solidarity with the country but no such honour was bestowed on Nigeria which lost a far greater number of citizens.

Critics from many quarters have asserted that international media outlets don’t care about the deaths in Baga because the victims are Africans. However, several publications have explained why 17 deaths in Paris have attracted more attention than 2,000 in Nigeria.


It is not easy to find out the truth in Nigeria. The Baga killings last week are a case in point, with politicians and government officials offering vastly different information - from 150 dead to 2,000.

Meanwhile in Paris news breaks of, initially at least, 12 people being shot dead by gunmen. Within minutes President Francois Hollande is speaking to the world's media offering some clarity and leadership.

"This is an act of exceptional barbarism," he begins and says security measures are in place to apprehend the perpetrators.

Ten days since Baga was first attacked and there have also been several suicide bombings. But we have not heard a word from Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan - except for a statement condemning the Paris attacks.

On Monday evening the government put out a statement saying "the number of people who lost their lives during the Baga attack has so far not exceeded about 150".

But we may never know how many have died in and around Baga. We know there will never be an investigation that will reveal the truth.

It won't be the first time we are not sure if 150, 300, 500 or even 2,000 people were killed in a massacre in Nigeria.

The Guardian:

France spent the weekend coming to terms with last week’s terror attacks in Paris that left 17 dead. The country mourned, and global leaders joined an estimated 3.7 million people on its streets to march in a show of unity.

In Nigeria, another crisis was unfolding, as reports came through of an estimated 2,000 casualties after an attack by Boko Haram militants on the town of Baga in the north-eastern state of Borno. Amnesty International described as the terror group’s “deadliest massacre” to date, and local defence groups said they had given up counting the bodies left lying on the streets.

So why did the Paris attacks receive more coverage than the Boko Haram killings? Why did the world focus on the Paris terror attacks, which left 17 dead, but pay little attention to a Boko Haram assault that may have left as many as 2000 civilians dead in the north-eastern state of Borno?…The blame does not just lie with western media; there was little African coverage either. No leaders were condemning the attacks, nor did any talk of a solidarity movement, he said, adding that “our outrage and solidarity over the Paris massacre is also a symbol of how we as Africans neglect Africa’s own tragedies, and prioritise western lives over our own.”

…Last week, Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Jonathan, expressed his condolences for the victims of France but stayed silent on the Boko Haram attacks on Baga. The president was also criticised for celebrating his niece Ine’s wedding over weekend, in the aftermath of the killings.

TIME Magazine:

As the world responded to the Charlie Hebdo attack with a 3.7 million person march and the most tweeted hashtag in history, a surge in insurgent savagery in northeast Nigeria drew much less international attention — but was far bloodier. “Je Suis Charlie” has been the theme of the week, but we could just as easily say “Je Suis Nigeria.”

President Jonathan has an election to win, and his government has been accused of underestimating deaths attributable to Boko Haram to deflect political criticism. Less than 24 hours after the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, President Jonathan publicly declared it a “dastardly terrorist attack.” Yet nine days after the violence in Baga began, Jonathan has not publicly acknowledged that the attacks had even happened, though a spokesman for Nigeria’s Defense Ministry issued a statement questioning the “exaggerated” death-toll estimates, dismissing them as “speculation and conjecture.”

Huffington Post:

“Outrage at Western media is so shockingly simplistic and useless because it distracts our attention from the thieving potbelly political elite in Nigeria who are complicit in this massacre and who have little regard for the lives lost.”

“Because while you are tweeting your outrage about the lack of coverage, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, a proven good-for-nothing imbecile, has not said a word about it and is busy posting party photos on Facebook. While you simmer in anger about the massacre in Baga not being front page news on CNN, the good-for-nothing imbecile sent a statement of condolences to France, calling the attack on Charlie Hebdo dastardly. He joins members of his cabinet and other African political elites who have kept quiet about the Baga massacre but have sent similar messages of solidarity to France. Six African heads of state actually made it to Paris to stand in solidarity with France.”

"Consequently, focusing indignation on Western media and not at Aso Rock and those in Abuja who continually demean and degrade Nigerian lives is naïve and does great disservice to the victims of Baga. Because unless we collectively and continuously focus our just and righteous rage at Abuja and root our analysis and critique against the Nigerian government who have allowed the spread of this scourge, the killings and massacres will only continue with impunity."

The Conversation:

In France 13 people are murdered by Islamic terrorists and it becomes a global news event, with around 50 world leaders visiting the country to take part in the mourning. In Nigeria, up to 2,000 people are murdered by Islamic terrorists and it barely makes headlines at all.

Someone at most news outlets took the decision last week and elsewhere that the Nigerian slaughter in the town of Baga was far less newsworthy. Without overstating the point, that just wasn’t the right thing to do. It shouldn’t matter to journalists where the news is. It should simply about reporting the biggest stories of the day.

But however disappointed by this difference in treatment, Nigeria’s government has to take some responsibility. A couple of days after the atrocity President Jonathan thought it appropriate to allow the wedding of his foster daughter to go ahead – and to be seen to be dancing during the celebration.

Wherever the president goes, the media follows. When you have a president who thinks that the best thing to do is to go dancing, it shows he has no respect for the people who died. Compare that with President Hollande of France visiting the crime scene shortly after the Charlie Hebdo massacre. Do you think his daughter’s wedding would have gone ahead (grandly) 48 hours after the country went into mourning?

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